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Life Afraid

By @ObsidianLightX3

Part One

I clutch my Social Studies book and Chromebook, adrenaline rushing through my veins. I almost made it through the entire day without stumbling into Ross.

I hurry outside and fast walk nervously. I try to look straight, keeping my bus in sight. My eyes dart to each and every person.

I face plant on the sidewalk.

The sound of laughter almost makes me cry, along with the pain burning on my face and knees. I slowly manage myself to sit up, gathering my stuff even with shaking palms. Once I stand, I turn and face him. Ross.

He wipes away an imaginary tear. “Watch where you’re going, my foot kinda hurts from you tripping over it.” I send him a glare, a sharp retort itching on the tip of my tongue. I turn back toward my bus, and when I say nothing, Ross laughs again. “That’s what I thought. I knew you’d just let it happen, you wouldn’t do anything to get back at me.”

“Oh really?” I whirl around, but the words die on my tongue. I cough in embarrassment and turn around, running to my bus. Ross’s laughter follows me all the way home.

* * * * *

Laying in my bed, I run a rag over my hands and knees. My jeans have two big holes in, thanks to my run in with Ross. My phone dings and I cradle it in my hands, a bright smile plastered on my face.

New message from Erica

I click the message and read it. Erica is a friend I met about a year ago online. She’s in my grade in my area but she’s homeschooled because she’s too shy to be in class. Sometimes I imagine her in class, the teacher calls on her and she just sinks into her chair with a squeak.

“When does the bell ring at your school?”

I smile as I reply, “About an hour ago.”

I only have to wait about five seconds. “Oh.”

Erica has helped me through lots of my ‘Ross problems’. I never said his name because I respect privacy. That’s also why I’ve never offered to meet Erica in person.

“I just got home from school.–” I pause in my typing. Maybe I should toughen up and just ask. “–I’ve been wondering… would you like to meet up? irl?”

I have to wait five minutes for a reply.

“I don’t know…”

“I understand.”

 * * * * *

After another full day of Ross torturing me (and me being too scared to fight back), I’m beat. I collapse onto my bed, just as my phone vibrates. I look at it exasperated before I realize that it’s Erica.

How was your day? ?

I sigh, “Not so good. The bully was a nuisance all day.”

“Aww. What happened?”

“Just the usual, stupid ****. How was your day?” I have to wait so long, I start wondering if something happened to her.

“No. I’m done hearing about this one girl who keeps messing with you. We are going to end this, together. As friends. I am not going to let you keep putting this off and waving it away as if it’s no big deal but I can tell it’s a very big deal.”

I’m stunned, so my reply is just, “Okay.” Then, “What do you want me to do?”

“Start by coming up with some good comebacks, for one.”

I think, anytime I make up a new comeback, it’s directed to Kourtney, I’ve never tried thinking of something for someone else. I try, coming up empty. I decide to change the subject.

“Hey… I’ve been thinking, we do live in the same area. We could meet up?”

Five minutes later, “I don’t know.”

“It’s okay if you don’t want to. Though, I could use a hug… *hint, hint, wink, wink*”

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